The Denver Broncos began the season without Von Miller, and they'll end it without him, too.
Miller's season is over after tests revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because coach John Fox had not yet addressed the media at his regular Monday news conference.
Miller was injured in the first quarter of Denver's 37-13 win at Houston on Sunday. Miller was pass-rushing when he was blocked cleanly by tight end Ryan Griffin. His right knee buckled and he crumpled to the ground.
Miller walked off the field and into the locker room with a team doctor and trainer. Because he didn't need to be carted off, there was hope that his injury wasn't season-ending and that he might return for the playoffs.
The best case now is that he's back for training camp after surgery sometime next month. ACL recoveries generally take 6-9 months.
Although the Broncos held the Texans to just one touchdown, they had trouble generating a pass rush without Miller and had to use defensive backs to get after quarterback Matt Schaub, which opened up holes in their secondary.
Miller's injury ended a rough third season for the Broncos star, which began with a six-game drug suspension. He finished with just five sacks in 10 games.
With 30 sacks in his first two NFL seasons, Miller won the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2011 and was runner-up for the league's Defensive Player of the Year honour last season. He set a team record in 2012 with 18 1/2 sacks to go with 28 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles.
Best player on the planet
In the off-season, Broncos executive vice-president John Elway called Miller the best football player on the planet.
Miller guaranteed a Super Bowl title for the Broncos in the off-season, but then came word just before training camp started that he had run afoul of the league's drug program.
Miller continued to work out at the team's Dove Valley complex during his suspension, and he bulked up to 270 pounds — 24 pounds more than when he was selected second overall in the 2011 draft out of Texas A&M.
The Broncos went 6-0 during his absence, and Miller was rusty upon his return. At times, it appeared the added weight was a detriment to his game. Other times, it helped him overpower blockers with an enhanced bull rush.
There were moments where he would flash his old form, and he spoke just last week about peaking for the playoffs. Champ Bailey said Sunday that Miller had "really started to click now."
The Broncos find themselves once again scrambling to make up for the loss of a dynamic playmaker that teams had to account for even though he wasn't having his typically disruptive season.
Miller, the first player in team history to earn a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first two seasons, finished the year with 33 tackles.
He joins a growing list of Denver defensive players who have been sidelined, including safety Rahim Moore (leg), linemen Kevin Vickerson (hip) and Derek Wolfe (illness), cornerback Kayvon Webster (thumb) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (shoulder stinger).
Bailey has appeared in just four games because of a nagging foot injury. He played in nickel and dime packages Sunday, marking his first full game since Oct. 13.
Denver's injury-riddled defence is a major concern for a team that is averaging 38.1 points and needs just 18 against Oakland on Sunday to supplant the 2007 Patriots' NFL record of 589 points in a season.
The Broncos have surrendered 385 points, or 25.6 a game. No team has ever won a Super Bowl giving up that many.